That One Almost Dance

He had the bluest eyes I’ve ever seen. He was my height (which is tall), gorgeous, thick dark hair, crooked smile, and he was my locker neighbour.

First day of freshman year high school, I finally navigated my way to my homeroom and found my locker, in a very ideal spot across from my homeroom and near the cafeteria. I remember hanging up my boy band posters and locker mirror, but I don’t remember my first meeting with the dream guy. I just remember that I was completely smitten.

Up until that point, my crushes had been on boy band members who acted innocent but were skeazy in real life, young actors with mysterious smiles and cute hair, or random boys in school who were sort of cute but as my hormone-ravaged brain needed the drama, these boys became the center of my little world.

In middle school, my friends and I would harmlessly fixate on one guy a year and give him a code name; one boy’s nickname was after a boy band song, and the other was after his unfortunate taste in winter outerwear. We’d narrate his day or talk about things we caught him doing. We’d never ask him out or dream of being asked out by these cute guys, they were simply something to pass the time.

But my freshman boy was different, he made my pulse race, my face flush and my words stutter. No nickname or narrating for this boy. I just quietly pined hopelessly, devotedly to my blue-eyed boy.

We had the same homeroom and a few classes together, and then I walked into the school newspaper meeting and he was there. He was a writer too (mine of course being the better pieces), but I read his words until I memorized them. I don’t recall any one-on-one conversations, but I assume it would have happened. My friends knew how I felt and luckily only one tried to constantly shove me in his path, but I resisted. I was the damsel in the tower, I wasn’t going to call after my prince charming; he can find me himself.

Then it was the first dance of the school year. None of my peers could go, an older friend was supposed to meet me at the dance later on, so brave 14-year-old me, I went completely alone.

Much Music Video Dance, I wore hip-hugger pants, my platform heels (although being 5’7 at the time) and my Backstreet Girl crop top (I may have used Hot Sticks and or glitter gel in my hair). Either way, I was here to dance and have fun and I did. Then, “All My Life” KC and Jo-Jo came on, I swayed alone to the song when a mutual friend of mine and my crush’s found me. She told me that the next slow song, he wanted to dance with me. With me.

I remember smiling so calmly, and said sure, I’d dance with him. My inner damsel squealed and danced around in my mind but as the friend walked away, I stayed where I was for a few minutes then glided down to the washrooms.

I have many fond, dramatic memories of those washrooms, mainly friends of mine having meltdowns or gossiping about girls in school but this was my own moment. I went in, washed my hands and looked at my young and terrified face in the mirror. It was happening. I was going to dance with my blue eyed prince and we’d live happily ever after. Drying my hands I went back upstairs to my destiny.

Sadly, my dreams were just dreams, as no more slow songs played and my prince never found me that night. He never asked me out or had his friend talk to me on his behalf. We just had that one almost dance.

I was crushed, but knew some dreams weren’t meant to be. I moved on and crushed on other boys (real and Hollywood style), but still have fond feelings for Blue-Eyed Boy.

Later, I found out that my crush’s best friend (my arch-nemesis all throughout high school) had a crush on me too. So I tell myself that my crush was being a good friend by not making a move on me to spare his friend’s feelings. It also explained why the arch-nemesis was such a prick to me all throughout high school.

Only fairly recently did I find out that my blue-eyed gorgeous prince was gay (okay to be fair, I FaceStalked him a little). I was a little sad for what could have been and felt a little sad for that 14-year-old me at the dance waiting for my long-waited slow dance.

However, what my blue-eyed boy gave me was much more than dreams and fantasies; he got me out of my boy band craziness and into real life boys and showed me that even if it wasn’t meant to be, I was worth being asked out and maybe fought over a little bit. So, on those days when I think I am not worth it, I’ll remember the boy who sent a friend to ask me to dance (even if there is a little part of me that thinks maybe my prince wasn’t in to me; maybe it was my Backstreet Girl shirt), I’ll remember the feeling of being in the girl’s washroom and thinking I had a happily ever after coming. Someday, my prince will really come.

When I Realized I Was A Grown-up

Girl Looking Over Water-small

Sixteen years is a long time. It’s the age of a girl who dates football players or the boy who drives his Dad’s car with a mix of caution and recklessness. Sixteen years is also how long I’ve known Lola, a woman who was a giant kid at heart and made me laugh myself to tears. We met at a talent show in 1997; her with actual talent and me trying to pass my pathetic imitation of Posh Spice as a talent. We were close all through high school and stayed in touch as I went to university and she moved to another small town. Eventually we drifted apart, tethered only by Facebook, with the occasional message and an almost random run-in on the street in Toronto.

She’s now engaged, and in celebration I invited her to visit me in Toronto for a weekend. I wanted to share this special event with her, remembering all the great times we had together. I bought loads of booze, planned all these events and things to do, and had all these expectations and it turned out to be a fantastic weekend. However, I was surprised at how I felt after it was over.

While I have aged, I’ve never felt any differently from when I was a teenager. Being with L made me realize that not only had I grown up, I was not who I really thought I was.

She came in with a whirlwind of activity and clumsiness (as always); she hardly stopped to breathe as she told me about her life with her fiancée, her two cats, and friends. She talked me into going to the Eaton Centre and proudly told me that it was her first streetcar ride (which she then almost fell out of when exiting). Her innocence, even with her age, surprised me. I had always felt older than her, but she was getting married! I herded her around town, and, for a while, it felt like old times; side splitting laughter, giggling about boys and trying on clothing. Then I had planned to take her out with a bunch of my Toronto friends and take her out we did! They loved her, she loved them, and a grand time was had by all.

Being with L made me realize that not only had I grown up, I was not who I really thought I was.

The next day was full of fun and more tastes of Toronto life, and even before she boarded the bus home, she wanted me to plan her next visit. I smiled weakly, after all exhausted with the late night and the running around and told her we’d work it out later.

I went home alone with my iced tea and confused emotions. I was happy she had a great time, I was exasperated by her and I felt nostalgic because maybe the distance between Lola and I was longer than her bus ride. The things that mattered to us when we were younger don’t mean the same to me anymore; I don’t have tickle fights with my friends (true story), I wear clothes that I find fashionable not because they were in style, I don’t even listen to the same music anymore. I’ve become a mature, wine/whiskey drinking, biography reading, staying in and watching Netflix kind of adult. The girl that Lola knew was just a snapshot of my past that had been left behind in a photo album that L carried on her trip. It was very sobering to realize that magically I had grown up without even noticing.

I later looked at photos on Facebook, reminiscing, and realized that despite how much I’ve changed, there is a tiny bit of me that will still giggle over cute boys, or lip sync to a pop song that I would die if anyone found out I knew the lyrics to. The weekend was nice to revisit the old me, laugh until I had tears in my eyes, and letting myself be goofy with a good friend, but I am better off being who I am now.

Erin Fahy is a corporate drone by day and a Blonde Mag contributor by night. You can follow her on Twitter @rockurworld16. Lola is not her friend’s real name.

Image from Manley Art